I hate it when I find a disappointing experience so early in the year. It puts me in a sour mood, because I wish I could say I really enjoyed this game. It has a lot of good ideas and a beautiful art style, but holy cow, it has some major issues. Today’s review will be of Alientrap Game’s Apotheon, a 2D action RPG set in the world of Greek mythology. Here is a little history. Apotheon started development back in mid-2011 and just came out last week. The Wikipedia page for this game might want you to believe it got an overall positive reception, but in reality, it’s more like a mixed-to-positive reception. Let’s dive into why I am considering this game the first disappointment of 2015. This is Apotheon for the PlayStation 4 and PC!
Apotheon puts you into the shoes of a Greek warrior who is humanity’s last hope after Zeus and the other gods have given up on humanity. It is up to you to go to Olympus and take down Zeus and the other gods. I would like to talk more about the game’s story, but what I have to say isn’t all that positive. I will save all of my criticism for the later part of the review.
This is a 2D action game with RPG elements, and some platforming mixed in for good measure. A majority of the time you are playing in this world is spent running from level to level while fighting some baddies. The levels are set up with having an open-ended feel in mind. If you love games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Guacamelee’s style of levels, then you will be right at home with the open-ended designs of this game. The combat is more strategic than flashy. Don’t expect a God of War-style combat engine, but instead, expect something more along the lines of The Elder Scrolls or Dark Souls. The attacks are not swift, and you won’t be relying on combos. You can technically kill a majority of enemies with one well-placed swing of your weapon. The list of weapons includes swords, spears, axes, hammers, arrows, javelins, bombs, and you get the idea. A lot of the weapons actually have a bit of wind-up to them so you can’t just poke and prod your opponents. You will also have to deal with shielded enemies, and like a lot of RPGs, every weapon and shield has a durability meter. For the one or two people that might not know what that means, it means that if you use your weapons and shields too much, they will break. Luckily, you can constantly pick up new weapons and shields either in the levels or at a market place. It’s a good idea to not try to fight many enemies at once, and instead try to take them on one at a time since you can easily lose a lot of health if you are surrounded. Outside of the main exploration, platforming, and fighting, you can explore the hub world, and either upgrade your armor, weapon skills, tackle side quests, or even compete with friends in local multiplayer. If you want to just tackle the story, it will take you about seven hours, but you can expand that to about 10 hours if you want to complete the side quests.
The game’s art style is its best element. I love that they made a game that looks like the art you see on Greek pottery. It gives the game a totally original look, and while it can be a bit distracting in a lot of ways, I will talk about the bad elements soon. The music is also spot-on. Gorgeous, grand in scale, ominous, and quiet really describe the multiple tracks that you hear throughout the game. I remember walking through the world of Hades, and instead of running through the entire level, I was taking my time and listening to the sounds of the level around me. Because of the music, I was easily pulled into this game’s world in a few instances.
Here we go then! Here are my biggest complaints about the game! The story is forgettable. It is nothing unique. We have seen the whole story of a human taking down gods before, and I could have looked the other way if the characters were interesting, but they weren’t! These have to be some of the most boring characters I have seen in an indie game. I mean it, too! The main character has no personality or goal other than to be the bland chosen one. I know this game’s entire story is meant to be inspired, and paying homage to the Greek stories of the past, but the protagonists and the antagonists in many of them had much more personality then in the stories that are given here. I never felt the need to be invested at any point in the story. I also found the combat to not be as tight as I think the developers want it to be. It’s pretty clunky, and my comparison to The Elder Scrolls games isn’t too far off. If you are familiar with The Elder Scrolls’ clunky combat system, then you will understand why I feel like Apotheon’s combat is the same way. It doesn’t feel fully satisfying all the time, and it should! One element I will give the game credit for are the boss encounters you encounter. When you have to fight the giant bosses, they are truly some of the best moments in the game. However, one boss as of right now is infamous for being unique and extremely frustrating. At one point in the game, you have to fight Artemis. One of the unique elements of this fight is that you will have to evade her when she turns you into a deer, and somehow, turn yourself back into a human. The twist here is that once you turn back into a human, Artemis will turn into a female deer, and that is the only point in time when you can hurt her. The problem here is that she has the obvious advantage of evading you since your character starts out so slow, and it takes what seems like half a minute for you to finally pick up momentum. I am seriously thinking that the designers made it intentional that you are always at a disadvantage against certain enemies and bosses like Artemis. Artemis moves so quickly that you really have no time to catch up to her and attack at the same time. I know I spent a lot of time talking about this one fight, but it really is an issue. It took me multiple tries to take her down. No boss should be this frustrating. Plus, once you gain that fast momentum, you instantly lose it going up a hill. On a personal level, I hate durability in any RPG. It comes off as just another layer of tedium. Another element that is tedious is that the user interface is not very clear. It took me about 30 or so minutes to pick up on what the heck everything was. I also ran into a few glitches. Some of the attacks by the enemies can either intentionally or unintentionally send you flying high into the sky like a “rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone”. Those moments where I got struck hard by enemies actually got me stuck in the ground a couple of times during fights. I also encountered a glitch that caused my game to crash. Luckily, that only happened once. I found that the difficulty was not leveled. Sometimes the difficulty was just right, but many times, like in the realm of Ares or Hades, the difficulty was uneven. One of the issues with the difficulty is that the beautiful artwork will sometimes hide the enemies. It became more of an issue when I was in the realm of Hades, but it became such a drag to keep swinging my weapon around not knowing if I was hitting something or not. The levels, while open-ended, were all built the same, with the exception of a maze-like level later on in the game. They are all open, and you will be traveling back and forward through different doors to different challenges. Aesthetically, they look different, but that is about it.
So, with this huge list of complaints, you must think I hate this game. Well, I don’t! I really like what much of this game offers, but I find it a bit too flawed and maybe a bit overpriced in terms of bringing an overall satisfying experience. The game is currently on PC and the PlayStation 4 at $15. If you think you will enjoy this game from beginning to the end with no complaints what-so-ever, then maybe you will not mind spending that much for this game. Personally, I would wait for a flash sale on the PlayStation 4 or the infamous Steam sales. Again, there were a lot of great ideas, but Apotheon didn’t win me over. Hopefully they can make a better sequel, but we will have to see.
This game gets a 6 out of 10.